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Matt & Aubrey, Community Volunteers

Written by Olivia Robin

Matt Lee and Aubrey Crawley are Elon University sophomores with a unique relationship, not only with each other but with their local community.

The couple met their sophomore year and the chemistry was instantaneous. Together they have created memories on and off campus, specifically with Allied Churches. The couple has been volunteering together to aid the local community of hunger.

Crawley became a volunteer for Allied Churches within the first month of her freshman year. Crawley had always had an interest in volunteer work. "I did [volunteered] at home," said Crawley. "So when I got to Elon, I headed straight to the volunteer section."

Through her active work with Allied Churches she was asked to be the Leader in Collaborative Service. Crawley works as the liaison between Allied Churches and Elon University students who volunteer. Three days a week Crawley spends time primarily in the food pantry where she answers any questions that volunteers may have, as well as handling any abnormalities.

Crawley would not characterize her position at Allied Churches as work. She says she is determined to serve wholeheartedly and to build meaningful relationships. She strives to promote the same message to the volunteers she coordinates with.

"It is more about building relationships," said Crawley, "then doing a one time service."

Lee became a volunteer soon after he saw the work that Crawley was doing. Lee was first influenced by his Global Experience class at Elon – a class dedicated to Elon's unprecedented commitment to diversity and global engagement. He became involved with the Positive Attitude Youth Center for his class and quickly found that he enjoyed connecting with local people. He then sought for other opportunities, one of which he found through his girlfriend, Crawley.

Lee visits Allied Churches once a week and works with parents. "I enjoy working more with adults who face realities," he said.

The couple volunteers as a means to give back to the community, they consider it a special thing they can do together. Lee and Crawley admit that they have a connection and passion for Allied Churches, even more so when they volunteer together. They enjoy making relationships with the clients of Allied Churches and feel that they have found a home away from home that they both can share.

Lee and Crawley find it impactful to get involved outside of their Elon world, but they found that even a minute outside of Elon, the community is very different. "Even the drive from Elon to Allied Churches is mind blowing," said Lee. "We go from our Elon country club to more poverty areas. So it's different to experience that. And as college students I think it's important to not be trapped in this place."

The couple has experienced some difficulties along the way in seeing how people in the community experience unordinary circumstances that put them in challenging situations. Crawley described hearing the stories of local residents as heart wrenching. She finds it hard to leave Allied Churches not knowing if a resident will be able to keep going.

Despite having days where challenges arise, the couple continues volunteering and are adamant about doing volunteer work throughout the remainder of their Elon careers, even for Crawley who will be spending the next two years in Germany.

Volunteering is a unique aspect of Lee and Crawley's relationship. It is something they enjoy doing together, but are clear in that they are not volunteering for each other. The couple shares a lot of the same values and they feel that fuels them to volunteer and serve others. Lee said that when they volunteer, they have a lot of fun. The couple has developed a special game where they guess how many residents will be at the food pantry, and Lee admits that Crawley is far more accurate in guessing those numbers than he is.

The heart and passion that the couple has for Allied Churches and their volunteer work is evident. "It has really shaped and changed a lot of conversations we have," said Lee. "It truly is a special thing we get to do together."